Quarantine Forces Us to Consider: What Purpose Do Bras Serve, Really?


Mar 27, 2020


Image Credit: Dreamstime

From the legend of the ‘bra-burning feminists‘ to the modern-day ‘Free The Nipple‘ campaign, feminism’s repeated efforts to get rid of the bra have largely failed. Not to worry, though — the job is being fulfilled to perfection by a life-threatening viral pandemic. People with breasts all around the world are jumping for joy at the prospect of staying at home for an indefinite, glorious period of time, for the sole reason that they’re not required to clasp on their bras anymore. Turns out, a prison for our souls is actually jailbreak for our boobs.

But, this begs the question — what good are bras really? The debate rages on between the small-boob and the big-boob crowd, with the former claiming subjugation, and the latter expressing gratitude for much-needed buttress. In these trying times, science, as always, has come to the rescue.

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A 15-year-study out of the University of Besançon in France concluded that bras do no good — they don’t reduce back pain as the big boob crowd likes to point out, nor does it prevent boob sagging, as the grandmother crowd likes to remind us. Contrary to popular belief, researchers found bras weaken the muscles that hold up breasts, which makes them more prone to sagging.

“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” study researcher and sports science expert Jean-Denis Rouillon said in a statement.

Over the course of 15 years, Rouillon measured changes in breast sizes and shapes of hundreds of women, aged 18 to 35, using a slide ruler and a caliper used to measure distances between opposite sides of an object. He found women who had never worn bras had less sagging breasts than women who did — theirs were seven millimeters higher, to be exact. Women who went without bras also had firmer breasts, he added.

While Rouillon admitted his sample size was in no way representative of all people with boobs, other scientific experts have also come to similar conclusions regarding the mythical effects of the ‘right bra,’ which in itself is a myth designed to keep a person with boobs looking, and in the attempt, shopping.

“In my clinical experience, wearing a bra does not prevent back pain or improve a woman’s posture,” medical spine specialist at Cleveland Clinic, Deborah Venesy, M.D., says. “The benefits of wearing a bra are largely cosmetic.” The only thing that can ease the physical pain of having large boobs is doing exercise and practicing good posture, Venesy says.

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There you have it — years of conditioning has embedded in our psyche bras are imperative to our well-being; turns out, they’re merely an exercise in curbing the heterosexual man’s overexcitable sexual imagination, and oxymoronically, also the vehicle to facilitate exactly just that.

Now, with the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown, we have an avenue to change that. More than 50 years ago, protesters at the Miss America beauty pageant cheerily threw their bras into the ‘Freedom Trash Can,’ but failed to burn them. With the coronavirus pandemic embodying a literal trash can that has unwittingly granted many of our boobs their freedom, perhaps it’s finally time we set the damn thing on fire.


Written By Rajvi Desai

Rajvi Desai is The Swaddle’s Culture Editor. After graduating from NYU as a Journalism and Politics major, she covered breaking news and politics in New York City, and dabbled in design and entertainment journalism. Back in the homeland, she’s interested in tackling beauty, sports, politics and human rights in her gender-focused writing, while also co-managing The Swaddle Team’s podcast, Respectfully Disagree.


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